The process of identifying ELL students involves collecting and analyzing data to determine whether or not a student is limited English proficient (LEP) and entitled to services through a language instruction program.  On this page, we will walk you through the initial steps as outlined on the LIEP Processes and Procedures Flowchart (updated 5.15) LIEP Processes and Procedures Flowchart (updated 5.15).

Please keep in mind that the Consultants for English Learners at Central Rivers AEA are available to support you through the identification process and provide training in administration of the identification/placement screening assessments.

Home language survey

Screening for potential English learners is part of the district registration process.  ALL students are to complete a Home Language Survey (HLS IA) upon enrollment in a district. This is a one-time event.  Current guidance from the Iowa Department of Education states that only Form IA from TransACT  is approved for use in Iowa districts.  The Iowa Department of Education provides a state-wide subscription to TransACT so that all accredited public and non-public districts can access these resources free of charge.

Once the HLS has been completed, a designated staff member reviews the responses. If a language other than English is in the child’s background, the student is considered a potential ELL student.  The district then proceeds to the next step of the screening process.

All completed HLS must be filed in the student’s permanent folder.

Administration of identification/placement screening assessments

The next step in determining eligibility for English language instruction services is the administration of an identification/placement screening assessment. This step must be completed within the first 30 days of school or within two weeks for students who enroll after the first day of classes. Districts are required to administer the ELPA21 Dynamic Screener. Please visit the Iowa Department of Education ELPA21 Screener page for details.

Also note that training is required for test administrators. This Trainings For Schools Document will provide you directions on statewide trainings.

Assessing academic skills

It is recommended that district’s assess a student’s literacy skills in both English and the native language (where possible) provides valuable insight into the student’s language and literacy development which can inform instructional and programming decisions.   Likewise, math and science tests can be windows to the student’s educational history.  Many districts have assessments built into the content curriculum that can be used for this purpose such as reading inventories, placement assessments, chapter and end of course assessments.  District-wide assessments could also provide valuable data if enrollment corresponds with administration of these assessments.

Other pertinent data

Additional data and information from prior school records, parents, and the students themselves can give the staff. Some key information to seek includes:  prior identification as ELL, services provided in the previous district, most recent language proficiency test scores, literacy level in the first language and English, and access to education.

Determination of eligibility:  Is the student limited english proficient?

If the student is not proficient on the ELPA21 screener, the student is eligible for services. The district will progress with entering this information into the Student Information System and an initial placement is made in the Language Instruction Educational Program (ELL program).  The district must notify parents of the placement recommendation.  Parent notification forms are available from TransACT.

If it is determined that the student is sufficiently proficient in English so as not to limit access to the curriculum, the student is placed in the mainstream instructional program without additional language support services.

Parents do have the right to decline services.  If this is the case, it is required that this decision is recorded in writing using a ‘Parent Waiver of Services’ document. Forms for this purpose are also available from TransACT.